Shadowed by GraceShadowed by Grace
Cara C. Putman
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When newspaper photographer Rachel accepts an assignment to the front lines in World War II Italy, she harbors a secret motive. She's hoping to locate the father she never knew. Leaving her dying mother behind, she sets out on a journey Shadowed by Grace. Does her heavenly Father have an agenda she hasn't guessed?

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Cara Putman

Cara Putman is an attorney, wife, mom, women's ministry leader, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband, and  kids, that is. For years she asked God if this dream of writing was from Him. Her life was full. She went to college (Go Huskers!), moved to the Washington, DC area, married the man of her dreams, worked in the non-profit world, went to George Mason Law School at night while working, and then started having children.  Her life was far from empty, but the dream of writing historical fiction wouldn’t die.  After moving to Indiana she met Colleen Coble who put her on the writing path.  In her "spare" time she serves as membership officer for American Christian Fiction Writers and adviser to the Indiana chapter.

Favorite Verse: Psalm 37:4( NIV): "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

This verse is special to me because of the promise as I chase God and seek to know Him and become like Him, that He will change me until my desires match His. There’s no better place to be than lined up with His plans and desires for my life. Interview with Cara Putman


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a wife, homeschooling mom of four, attorney, Purdue University lecturer, and best-selling author. I love what I do!

How did you get started writing Christian fiction?

I’ve always wanted to write. I started when I was 14 and then started college. School, marriage, and life sidelined the dream, but it percolated periodically. Then in 2005, I attended a booksigning where my new favorite author was signing. My husband told Colleen Coble that I wanted to be a writer, and the rest is history. Colleen has been my cheerleader and advocate since.

What inspired your interest in writing Shadowed by Grace?

In July 2010 I walked by a display at our local library that had a new non-fiction book cover out. The photo on the front piqued my interest: a clearly WWII soldier standing with a large painting. The stories I read in Monuments Men intrigued me and made me want to learn more. Before long, characters and story ideas filled my mind and I began fleshing out the story that became Shadowed by Grace.

How did you come up with the concept for Shadowed by Grace?

The idea of an elite, tiny group of soldiers who were tasked with saving Western civilization in the face of the first war that involved constant aerial bombardment fascinated me. I wondered what challenges they would face. Then I started looking for unique roles American women filled on the European front. Shadowed by Grace, Rachel Justice and Scott Lindstrom were born.

How much of Shadowed by Grace is factual?

As much of it as I could recreate while still keeping it page turning. I relied on numerous nonfiction resources. But the best resource I found was Florentine Art Under Fire written by Frederick Hartt, one of the Monument’s Men stationed in Italy. He published it in 1949, and I relied on it heavily to get the timeline for the last third of the book as accurate as possible. I also learned how the Monuments Men responded to the devastation in Florence. But many other books added color to the novel. For example, from Assignment to Hell, I learned how the newsroom in Rome responded to the word that Normandy had been invaded. That’s in a scene with Rachel, who is a war photo-journalist. Because more people will read fiction than non-fiction, I strive to make my novels as true to what happened as possible.

How closely is Shadowed by Grace based on your life experiences?

There’s a piece of me in all of my books, but there’s probably less than in many other books. Unlike Rachel Justice, I grew up with a father who loves me deeply. Because of that I’ve never struggled to see God as my Father. Unlike Scott, I didn’t develop an appreciation for art until I was forced to take a class in college. But like him, I am passionate about that subject now.

How long did Shadowed by Grace take you to complete?

I developed the idea in summer of 2010 and started talking to editors about the story in fall 2010. I received the contract for the book in late summer 2012, and then dove back into the research. I wrote it in the winter and early spring of 2013. It’s been a challenging story to write, but one I loved crafting. It’s so exciting to see it coming into print.

Do you have a favorite character in Shadowed by Grace? Why?

Rachel Justice is special. She’s willing to do anything to try to save her mother. Even talk her way into Italy during a war time to find the father she’s never known. I hope I’d have that kind of spunk and determination to save the ones I love.

How much research did Shadowed by Grace take?

I relied on numerous resources. Fortunately many have written non-fiction titles that tell about the fighting across Italy as well as the story of the Monuments Men in that country. I also found some wonderful sources for the struggles and challenges women journalists faced in WWII. All of those came into play as I research and wrote Shadowed by Grace.

What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Shadowed by Grace?

Journalists started out wearing armbands that denoted WC to identify them as war correspondents, but the powers that be decided those armbands were too much like targets so they were replaced with WC insignia that were pinned to the collar. That’s just one example of the level of detail I had to research to get the facts right.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Coming up with new ideas. Fortunately I love research and because I love the WWII time period and history, I tend to see story ideas everywhere I go. Then it’s a process of digging deeper to see if an idea will support a novel and creating the characters who will bring the story to life.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love brainstorming and the actual creative process. Once I’m past the first couple chapters, the story usually flows with side detours for research.

What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)

I tend to be somewhere in between depending on the book. Stories like Stars in the Night flowed from a two page synopsis. Shadowed by Grace had more detail, while still other books came from detailed chapter by chapter synopsis.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Absolutely. And it’s fun when we reach that point. Then I begin the process of jotting down what I see playing out in my mind.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m working on a WWII Christmas novella collection with my writing buds Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer. Readers can look for that in October 2014.

What message would you like your readers to take from the Shadowed by Grace?

That God is with us even when we’re not sure we believe He cares. He is the Father who never leaves.

What is your greatest achievement?

This is a hard question! Following God because everything else about me and what I’ve done flows from a desire to follow His lead.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To help readers understand a different aspect of God. Whether it’s a new appreciation for His promise that He never leaves. A new approach to how we can integrate our faith into our lives. Or maybe a realization that He is who He says He is.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I love to escape to the mountains with my family or explore new places. When we can unplug and be, then it’s a great escape.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for having me!


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